Confessions of the Indecisive

Last week, the Office of Off-Campus Study sent emails notifying students of which semester they’ve been approved to go abroad. It seems to be all sophomores can talk about – which semester? Where are you going? What program? For some, this question elicits great excitement. There are the students who are going with Colgate programs who have known for ages, and the others who have planned exactly where they want to go. 

For me, however, there’s no question that brings me greater anxiety than the idea of going abroad. The process of applying to a Colgate program began way too early, with applications due in November. At this point, many students (aka me) don’t even know their major. I had little intention of being a political science major (which I have since decided on), so I barely even looked into Colgate programs, thinking that none would satisfy my needs. In fact, in November, I didn’t even know if I wanted to go abroad – Spring 2016 was way too far away to be thinking about.

I met with the off-campus study advisors, who sent me on chases to different departments with little guidance on what programs would most likely satisfy the requirements I need. I tried talking to older students, who all told me different things. I was told I should do a non-Colgate program to get out of the Colgate bubble. But no, Colgate programs are so much easier! And they satisfy requirements! What was I to do with all this information?

Once I missed the boat for Colgate programs, I decided to look into approved programs, which I did not find to be a pleasant experience. When you can literally go anywhere in the world, how do you even begin to make that decision? In my mind, I definitely did not want to go to Europe, as I wanted something “different.” But then I was told over and over how great it is to travel around Europe. For an indecisive person such as myself, I had absolutely no idea how to go about narrowing down my options. 

Eventually, an option presented itself to me when Professor Dudrick sent an email seeking students for the St. Andrews, Scotland program. In a “why not” moment, plus a phone call during which my mom yelled at me for not having things figured out, I decided to talk to him more about it and eventually decided that this seemed like a great option. Yes, it was Europe, and yes, it was a Colgate program, but it still allowed me to interact and immerse myself in a new culture. Besides, I thought it would be easier to do a Colgate program to satisfy credits, but I quickly learned it is not quite that simple. 

Am I still indecisive? Absolutely. Am I completely confident that this is the best thing for me? Well, I probably never will be, but if I’ve learned everything from talking to everyone possible, it’s that everybody figures it out eventually. No experience is perfect, but every one is valuable in some way. Although I wish the process was easier than it is, I know that somehow – most likely the day before the deadline – I’ll figure it out.